The horror of war has always made good and wise men seek peace before war. War is torture. When the RAF dropped incendiary bombs night after summer night on Hamburg in 1943 while the American Eighth Air Force dropped explosive bombs day after summer day on this second largest city in Germany, the bodies of children and grandmothers became the molten remnant of manmade firestorms. When American submarines sunk all freighters near the archipelago Empire of Japan, we condemned millions of Japanese civilians to starvation. When the second sun shown in two fission bombs over Hiroshima and Nagasaki, we tortured hundreds of thousands of women and children to death.
1. War is not law or lawful, but it is rather lawlessness in which one side will crush the other. War is the infliction of pain upon those whose suffering will ultimately bring victory to one side and defeat to the other side. War is violence and violence is not kind. Coventry, Dresden and Tokio were filled with children tortured to death from miles above. Was this unspeakable torture of innocents, per se, any better or worse than the rape and mutilation of Chinese girls by Japanese soldiers in Nanking in 1938 or the Soviets cramming millions of Polish Christians into cattle cars headed to Hell in 1940 or the Schultzstaffel gassing Jewish mothers and children in death camps in 1944?
Yes: what America and Britain did was right and what our enemies did was wrong. Americans tried “pinpoint” bombing until it failed. Bomber Command of the RAF also tried bombing only military targets, abandoning that tactic when it proved ineffectively and costly. If the Japanese merchant ships had not been utterly subordinated to war-making, then American submarines would have made them a much lower military priority.
But there is a deeper difference that the reluctance of democracies to use terror and the eagerness of totalitarians to use terror than just the intention behind the means. It mattered not only to Brits, but to Frenchmen and to Dutchmen and to Czechs whether Britain or Germany prevailed in the Second World War. There was a strategic morality to the democratic allies in the Second World War and in the Cold War. Not only was it better for Belgians and Danes that the Allies win, but it was better to the children and grandchildren of those horribly burned victims in Hamburg, Dresden and Berlin that Germany lose and the democracies win.
It matters today to the Iraqi people that America prevail in their nation, because America will create a better land for the Iraqi people than they have been able to create for themselves. Those relatives of the humiliated prisoners mistreated by Americans are better off if the Americans win than if Americans lose. Acknowledging that fact, of course, is the psychic torture of all peoples whose cultures and societies are crippled by evil.
The torture that is violence and the violence that is war also has another moral dimension. Wars are not waged by men who know that they will unquestionably lose not only their life but the cause for which they are willing to die and to kill. Perhaps we should think less of Iraq today, less even of Operation Iraqi Freedom, less of Operation Desert Storm, and more of Operation Enduring Freedom – the liberation of Afghanistan from the Taliban.
America did not begin a war with Afghanistan. The Taliban had been waging a war for years against the essentially helpless women and children of Afghanistan. The incredible technological superiority of American power, combined with the exceptional training of American fighting forces, meant that the Taliban, who had with some good reason assumed that their landlocked stronghold in some of the wildest and most inaccessible terrain on the planet made them safe.
They guessed wrongly. America could have liberated Afghanistan with huge armies of troops rooting out Taliban and suspected sympathizers with savage fighting. America, instead, used absolutely overwhelming and precise firepower with no regard to any political flak from any corner. The torturing of the Taliban, the Nazis of Central Asia, ended quickly and with few casualties.
The money America spent on gold plated weaponry and an elite volunteer military cost us huge treasure, but the crime of the Clinton Presidency was not spending much more on weapons and training and bribery of foreign agents than we thought we needed. The pathetic excuses of spending money on “food programs” for fat, poor people. of spending money to “educate” children with their parents to moronic television programming, and of spending more on health care for adults who take destructive drugs and indulge in dangerous pleasures – this fraudulent “compassion” means torture and fear to people like the women and children of Afghanistan. These torture victims, of course, could not vote for Clinton or Gore. That is what really matters to those who yelp today about the mistreatment of Iraqis who until recently had meted out incomparably more sadistic torments upon the women, children and other innocents of Iraq.
War is Hell – what a surprise! – and the way to minimize shrink the borders of Hell is for those who hate war to be vastly strongly than those who love war. This the sort of genuine government “investment” – the investment of oceans of tax dollars to prevent the torture, the destruction and the danger to freedom which war produces. But preventing the Hell of War, with all its attendant tortures on all the innocent and guilty touched by war, requires those men who hate war to so arm, so train, and to so unite themselves that no evildoers consider, except in their grisly dreams, anything violent at all against the rest of the human race.
If we want to end war, mayhem, torture and destruction, then make certain that those who wish the human race torment, slavery and fear correctly perceive themselves as overwhelmingly weaker than those who wish peace, freedom and hope. There is no greater “investment” we can make. Any politician who pretends otherwise also believes the odious myth that Nazi Germany, one of the best educated, healthiest, wealthiest and most confident nations in history, would not have committed its unimaginable savageries if the Germans had only been a little more learned, a little more physically fit, a little more prosperous or had a bit more self-esteem.
Any politician who pretends that the good having overwhelmingly greater physical power and moral will than the evil is the only sure guard against war, genocide and torture is himself an unwitting Nazi and an unknowing Chekist.